Bradley Gallagher is sixteen years old and is a junior in high school at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. His interests include politics, license plate collecting, and jazz and classical music as both a trombone player and as a listener.
Bradley has a strong personal interest in fairness for all people. In October 1998, U.S. Representative John Kasich of Ohio offered him advice in the form of his own beliefs and observations, the spirit of which he has been inspired to attempt to emulate: "I believe that fairness is defined by the impact we as individuals have on the lives of those around us. Likewise, whether or not we have a lot or a little success is determined by our willingness to be involved, make a difference, and give of ourselves." More and more in this society, grandiose, attention-grabbing speech is the norm, but when one begins to search beneath the bluster, there are often, unfortunately, no actions or deeds supporting these promises and declarations. For the preservation of our democracy, and especially in the analysis of our leaders, it is important to scrutinize what positive change and accomplishment actually takes place, compared with what these individuals claim to espouse.
That each person is able to exercise the same rights afforded to those with the most favorable personal situations and that all have access to the same benefits others enjoy and perhaps many take for granted are central issues for Bradley. From June 2001 until November 2002, he was significantly involved in U.S. Senator Max Cleland's re-election campaign. Bradley considered it an honor to work for and with the Senator because he believed and continues to believe in his principles and goals. As part of his quest for social equality and justice, Senator Cleland works to provide a voice for those who do not have the financial and often educational clout to be able to speak for themselves.
Since Bradley was ten years old and over a period of several years, he wrote to famous and highly accomplished people asking them for advice for a young person to be both morally principled and successful in life. More recently, he decided to share these responses, along with biographies of the respondents, in a book entitled Tips from the Top: Advice for a Young Person from 125 of America's Most Successful People. Consistent with his personal pursuit of fairness for all people, he had been troubled for years, since well before the tragedy of September 11, 2001, by the insufficient compensation firefighters, police officers, and emergency personnel receive in return for what they risk every day. The respondents in Tips from the Top provided their approval to include their letters in this book on the basis of his motivation for publishing it: the profits will help to fund college scholarship programs for the children of such overlooked heroes.
Perhaps as important as providing opportunities through these scholarships, another significant benefit of the quest to publish this book has been the invaluable advice the respondents have provided. Much of this advice is consistent with the original goals of the project - to learn more about the values embodied by successful people. Counseled Supreme Court Justice David Souter, for example, "Give the other fellow a hand when you can, and remember that every good thing you receive is meant to be passed along to someone else."
Last spring, Bradley founded a non-profit organization, Technology Initiative for Development and Education, or TIDE. He recognized that the economic divide between those less fortunate children and those with greater opportunity is also leading to a widening partition in technology. The goal of this organization is to secure used computer systems, mainly from large corporations, the most efficient means of collection, and to redistribute them to primarily school-age children with little chance of otherwise securing their own computers. Bradley is excited about the difference TIDE will make in the lives of others.
Bradley's life has been guided, and will continue to be guided, by the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "In these days of difficulty, we...must and shall choose the path of social justice, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man." FDR was speaking during the Great Depression, but his words continue to ring just as, if not more, true today. Bradley has tried to live by these words through his personal efforts in working for Senator Cleland, through establishing TIDE, and through the creation of the scholarship fund from the proceeds of Tips from the Top.